State’s Takeover of School District Hasn’t Helped, State Auditor Reports

The state’s takeover of the Inglewood Unified School District, intended to improve the district’s financial situation, hasn’t helped at all according to a November 5 report from State Auditor Elaine Howle.

The audit examined how State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson has handled the troubled school district. The results:

  • “The district has yet to demonstrate significant improvements to its finances.”

  • “The district has continued to spend more than it earns in revenues despite being under the control of the state superintendent and despite a dramatic increase in revenue due to how the state determines funding amounts for school districts.”

  • “Declining enrollment within the district remains a significant long-term financial problem.”

  • “The budget did not consider potential cost increases for salaries and benefits.”

  • “The state superintendent should have analyzed the county office of education’s fiscal oversight of the district before the State’s takeover as required by state law.”

  • “Over the last three years, the state superintendent has appointed four different individuals to lead the district – such inconsistent leadership could affect the district’s progress.”

The Inglewood Unified School District began the process of placing itself under state control when its five-member school board requested emergency funding from the state in July 2012. Citing the possibility that it would be fiscally insolvent by January 2013, the district’s governing board adopted a resolution requesting financial assistance, and in September 2012, the governor signed SB 533 (Chapter 325, Statutes of 2012) that authorized up to $55 million in emergency funding. This action also required the state superintendent of public instruction to assume control of the district, through his appointed state administrator, until both he and his state administrator conclude that the district can sustain the improvements made in its finances and operations to warrant its return to local control.

“The district has yet to demonstrate significant improvements to its finances or operations,” the auditor stated. “Although various recovery plans exist, there is no clearly stated and publicly available action plan prioritizing where the district needs to improve and how such improvement will be achieved.” (Source: California State Auditor, Report 2015-101, November 5.)

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